Will Parrish follows in father's footsteps as Bennettsville fireman
Being a firefighter has always been a lifelong dream for Will Parrish.
A dream that he has watched his father Bill live for his entire life.
"With him working at the fire department, I was pretty much born into it," Will Parrish said. "I have been coming up here ever since I could remember."
His dream was realized on July 25 when he was hired as a firefighter for the Bennettsville Fire Department.
"I love what I do," he said. "It is an honor to be able to serve my community. I feel like this was what I was put here to do."
His schedule is to work 24 hours on and have 48 hours off.
Will Parrish started out in the department's fire explorer program from ages 14 to 18. Once 18, he became a regular member of the fire department on Feb. 11 of this year.
"When I got the job, it was a dream come true," he said.
He graduated from high school about a month and a half earlier.
Bill Parrish said he was tickled to death that his son was following in his footsteps.
He noted there was a history in the fire service of generations fighting fires.
Bill Parrish has three children and felt honored that one of them wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Bill Parrish worked at the Bennettsville Fire Department for more than 28 years. Last year, he became the director of public works.
"Not bragging on him, he (Will) is very smart. I knew he could go somewhere else and get another job making a lot more than he would ever make here," Bill Parrish said. "But that is what he was drawn to do."
Bill Parrish started out as a volunteer with the Bennettsville Fire Department.
He volunteered for a year and a half and then had the opportunity to work full time.
When he started, there wasn't an explorer program or junior members. He started as an engineer in 1988, then became shift lieutenant and later fire marshal.
"Once it (firefighting) gets in your blood, it's something you enjoy and hard to get it out," he said.
After he switched to public works, Bill Parrish stayed on with the department as a volunteer lieutenant. He is also the chief of Brightsville Volunteer Fire Department. He has been on the department for 20 years.
Both Parrishes said their love of helping others and serving the community is what keeps them putting on the gear.
"You are helping people," Bill Parrish said.
"When the pager goes off, someone needs help."
At the end of this year, Bill Parrish will have spent 32 years in the fire service.
Will Parrish agreed with wanting to help others.
"There is no better feeling than helping someone in need," he said.
Bill Parrish noted it is hard now to get anyone to volunteer for any service.
"It is something you definitely love," he said. "Kids nowadays would rather stay home. When you say the word volunteer, you are not getting paid."
Will Parrish said one way for young people to learn more about the fire service is a firefighting program at Marlboro County High School, which started last school year.
"It is an opportunity for younger people to get involved. They can come out of school firefighter II certified," he said.
In addition to the Parrishes, other father-son or father-daughter members in Bennettsville include:
-Volunteers Jack Herndon and son, Caleb;
-Engineer Teddy Stubbs and his daughter, Candice Stubbs;
-Lt. Thomas Dew and his son, Thomas Dew III;
-Firefighter David Webb and his son, explorer Hunter Webb;
-Lt. Terry Patterson and his son, explorer Casey Patterson;
-Lt. Van Edwards and his son, Lt. Trey Edwards.